What does it mean to be in Christ? Why is this term, in Christ, used so frequently in the New Testament? How can knowing what it means help you be a more effective leader and a better Christian?
In the article “Spiritual Schizophrenia,” Ralph Mahoney explained how God has already helped you win the battle with your own sinful flesh nature by causing your ‘old man’ to die in Christ. By continuing to walk in Christ by the Spirit, you will experience continual victory over this, your most ferocious enemy. This truth will set you free!
But the truth of what you are and have in Christ is also an important Christian truth. There are four kinds of Christian truth: Personal, propositional, practical, and positional.
- a) Personal truth: Jesus said, ‘I am the truth “(John 14:6). Jesus is the “radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His nature” (Heb. 1:3). Jesus is “the image of the invisible God” and “in Him all the fullness of the Deity dwells in bodily form” (Col. 1:15, 2:9). Jesus, the Word of the Father, is the highest form of God’s self-expression. Jesus is ultimate truth. This is what we mean when we speak of personal truth.
- b) Propositional truth: Jesus said, “Thy (God’s) word is truth” (John 17:17). Propositional truth takes the form of statements of declarations. The Bible as God’s word is the purest example of propositional truth.
- c) Practical truth. John the apostle said, “For I was very glad when brethren came and bore witness to your truth that is how you are walking in truth. I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth” (3 John 3, 4). To “walk in” means to live out, or “Practical” means engaged or experienced in actual practice. “Practice” and “practical” are both derived from the Greek word which means to do, or act. Practical truth is propositional truth demonstrated through actual practice. For Christians, to do truth is to live out God’s word in our lives.
- d) Positional truth. Paul wrote, “But you did not learn Christ in this way, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus” (Eph. 4:20, 21). Jesus taught we can only succeed if we abide in Him (John 15). Paul affirmed this when he taught we can experience our inheritance from the Lord only if we are in Christ. The Bible teaches we have been repositioned through the cross: We were in Adam, but now we are in Christ. This is positional truth. Since positional truth tells us all the things we are and have in Jesus Christ, it is some of the most important teaching in the Bible. By knowing positional truths, we open doors to tremendous spiritual conquest. God has said, “my people are destroyed for lack of knowledge” (Isa. 4:6). What you don’t know will hurt you. A great many believers suffer daily defeat at the hand of their enemy because they don’t know he is already defeated. As we learn all that is involved in being in Christ, we will become equipped with undefeatable spiritual weapons. By knowing what we possess in Christ Jesus we need never again suffer the ravages of the Thief (John 10:10a).
Following is a brief overview of what the Bible tells us we are and have in Christ Jesus. Study these verses, meditation them (that is, turn them over and over in your mind’), and practice them. These truths will set you free to triumph in Christ Jesus as God has always intended.